Feb 052014
 

Last year, I was forced to file a complaint with the Bishop about hateful and dishonest actions by Bruce Toms, the newly appointed Pastor at Palma Ceia United Methodist Church. At the time, I was told by several Methodist Ministers to not have high expectations; that the Bishop’s first reaction would be to protect the institution; and his second would be to protect the elder. That came true, with a letter from the Bishop making some intellectual contortions that defy belief.

In the end, the Bishop concedes the statement of welcome adopted by the Church in 2011 was not a violation of the Discipline; that a Pastor cannot unilaterally undo the “legal” actions of a Church Council; but still, somehow, managed to find an excuse to side with Toms. Below, is my response to the intellectual gymnastics.

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Bishop Kenneth H. Carter, Florida Episcopal Area, United Methodist Church

Dear Bishop Carter:

I know you are aware that I am not at all satisfied with the response you have provided. It’s less about your findings, and more about the logic on which you seem to have based the determination. Much of the reasoning stated in your letter would call into question the integrity of the recollections of me and the other lay members involved in the 2011 process, and that’s just not acceptable to me. I know these people to be of the highest moral character, and I know Bill Josey’s recollection of many events to be substantially different than that of everyone else involved. So that’s just not going to go unanswered.

Therefore, I intend to respond to your letter of findings in some detail. You can disregard it if you wish, obviously, but it is important to me and the others involved to respond.

“The question of justice and grace in relation to gay and lesbian Christians is a matter of great importance. It can be approached missionally, pastorally, judicially and legally. Our Book of Discipline affirms the sacred worth of every person (161f) and our commitment to be in ministry “for and with all persons (161f). These affirmations are placed in the context of the Social Principles, which, “while not to be considered church law”, are nevertheless “a call to faithfulness and are intended to be instructive and persuasive in the best of the prophetic spirit” (Preface).”

We all know that 161f is part of the Social Principles and therefore not church law. However, Bruce Toms used it in his now “classified” and secret PowerPoint presentation to make his point that the former (as you call it) statement was in violation of the Discipline. So, since he did nothing wrong, the other sections of 161f would carry the same weight he seemed to give, would they not? In other words, use of the Social Principles was a door opened, not by me, but by Toms. Continue reading »

May 192012
 

Candle in the darkI’ve been thinking back over the time I got spend recently at the quadrennial General Conference of the United Methodist Church held here in Tampa this year. It was a big event, and it was a mess from a church polity standpoint. Like Congress, little of great substance was accomplished, and few longstanding issues were resolved, but that may be a good thing.

I’d like to take some time to reflect on some of my experiences as a volunteer there, and as someone who wound up being involved in a demonstration that resulted in one of the morning plenary sessions being cancelled.

Among some other things I did, I especially liked handing out the daily newspaper, and was approached two of those days by female ministers (interestingly enough) who wanted to know how I got involved with RMN, and then tried to “straighten me out.” They had apparently been to some program where they had some musician give testimony about coming out of “the lifestyle.” I also think they had been provided a script because they both started the conversation with the same question, “How did you get involved with that group?”

I explained to one of the ministers that I understood someone could decide to get married and not have sex with a member of the same-sex, but that did not mean that person had changed. She said, “Well, he has nine children now, so I think that says something.” I responded with, “Well, you know, that’s just a skill, and we gay people are very talented. We can pick up skills quickly.” That’s when she decided she’d talked to me long enough.

The other female minister rocked my world with an unexpected response. My primary response to people who talk about it being a choice is to explain to them that there have to be at least two options for it to be a “choice.” So that means, if they believe I could wake up tomorrow morning and decide to find women attractive, they could wake up the next morning, and decide to find people of the same sex attractive to them. That would constitute a choice. Well, believe it or not, this Minister responded that, yes she could, she could even remember the exact summer and the girl with whom she could have made that decision, but she resisted. I decided to let that one slide, because all I could muster at that moment was a feeling of sadness for her, for having made the choice to deny who she was for her entire life.

I just as well get in my 2 cents worth, as everyone else, friend and foe, has expressed an opinion about the protest. The difficulty is, they all are, to some degree, correct. Some thought it wrong and disruptive and possibly turned off some people. On the other hand, sometimes you have to call something out for what it is. I don’t think I would have crossed the bar, had it not been for the African Delegate comparing my life to that of an animal. Sadly, I think the net effect of the protest action could be zero, but I just really don’t know.

I’d like to note a personal campaign I’ve been waging of late. Whenever I read stupid things the hate crowd spouts about gay people, I try to find a way to contact them, and ask them to “say it to my face.” (You can read about my favorite one here.)

I had a conversation with the Bishop presiding at the time. I walked up to the daïs before he could leave and called him out. I told him that I was not raised to sit in the back of the church bus, and that he should not expect I would sit by and watch as a delegate from that same church stood up on the floor of a General Conference and compared my life to that of an animal, and worse, that the presiding officer would not gavel him out of order, and remove him from the hall altogether. I pointed out that had I been a delegate and said the same thing about the Africans, he would most certainly have called me out of order. (Personally, I think there should be some consideration of a letter writing campaign to that Bishop providing personal stories, and pointing out a disappointment in his lack of leadership.)

For me, one of the good things that came from this experience was a lot of thinking about the future of the Methodist Church, my place in it personally, and what I need to do about it. On the day after the action I was discussing it with my partner. He’s not Christian. He asked me, as he often does, a challenging question. He asked, “So why do you stay in a Faith that makes you uncomfortable?” He’s a master of the obvious.

After having to think about that for a while, the answer I gave him was that a sound faith doesn’t make one comfortable. That faith is, in fact, there to make us uncomfortable. It’s that uncomfortable state that drives me to be my better self; that makes me want to change the world; to make things better for others; and especially as people called Methodists, to take a stand for social justice. It is my faith that makes me so uncomfortable I have to work to do justice. It’s my faith that makes me uncomfortable when I see injustice, or people hurting, and it is that uncomfortable feeling that moves me to act.

I spent four weeks teaching a Sunday School study on Micah 6:8. One of the things I learned in preparing the study (We teach best what we most need to learn is a fundamental truth in my experience.) is that all the commandments in it are actions…things we are supposed to “do,” not things we are supposed to believe. When you think about Micah 6:8 and the Great Commandment from Jesus, it’s never about doctrine, it’s about something you are expected to do, and it’s often something hard, and something that makes you uncomfortable…”do justice; love mercy, walk humbly with God; love your neighbor; turn the other cheek; love God; pull the splinter from your own eye.” “In as much as you have DONE it unto the least of these.” It’s always about having to do something. That’s faith. Faith isn’t a belief God will take care of us, it is faith that calls us to do right, even (maybe especially) when it’s hard. It is in true faith we are called to take care of others.

Paul wrote about this in his first letter to the Thessalonians, “We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1:3) Paul’s not a big fan of “works,” but here’s one time when he talked about “work produced by faith.”   And it’s written about in John 14:12, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” If one has faith, one can DO. True and honest faith is always causing us to do something, working to make us uncomfortable with the status quo.

Dr. Martin Luther King was an obvious person to inform my thoughts these past weeks, and he said this about faith, “Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”

I believe too many people today are looking for religion to make them comfortable. So, we bend the gospel to talk about prosperity, when faith really calls us to relinquish our material wealth and follow Jesus (follow, another of those darned action words). We bend religion so that we can exclude people we imagine to be different from us…women, slaves, people of color, Muslims, and of course LGBT people, even when the Bible tells us, “come unto me all ye…” I always thought God actually did mean “all.” We bend religion to justify yanking away the social safety net, when Jesus says, “in as much as you have done it unto the least of these…” Continue reading »

Sep 282011
 
This entry is part 17 of 30 in the series Gay Marriage

So this GOP State Senator James Forrester who is supposedly a medical doctor (fortunately the sick in his town he’s retired). The batshittery is beyond belief and goes on and on as this blow hard is caught in lie after lie as he tries to hide the animus on which the anti-gay hate bill was based. He was the primary sponsor.

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Let’s take a look at what he based it all on:

  1. He says in a town hall it’s because gay men die 20 years sooner because of AIDS…blah, blah, blah. OK, so how does keeping gay people from marrying and encouraging monogamous relationships add to that problem?
  2. When called out on it, he first claims he got the info from the CDC. He assumed, because of his medical license I assume, that Michael would just accept that. When he didn’t, the doctor (lower case “d” is on purpose) then tries to say it’s based on his experience as a practitioner. It appears he did have one patient with AIDS at some point. Then he claims he got it out of a book by Frank Turek, a known homophobe who has no medical or scientific background.
  3. At one point he tries to claim he didn’t say it at all, and that it had nothing to do with the Bill, but Michael plays him the tape from his town hall (oops).
  4. Then he gets upset because Signorile is “trying to trip him up.”
  5. Next he claims that he’s just trying to preserve marriage between one man and one woman for over 5,000 years. Well, I guess he can be forgiven since he was a doctor and not a historian. Obviously in many societies men were permitted multiple wives, and for most of that 5,000 years which the doctor seems to remember so fondly, women were not equal parties in the marriage, but property. I’d call that a pretty big change to his “traditional marriage,” but he’d probably like to see it rolled back a hundred years or so anyway.
  6. Then he says he just wants people to vote on it so it can’t be decided by some federal judge (and he does say federal). Well, again, I guess he was too busy dissecting his cadaver to bother reading the Constitution, but if a federal judge rules, it’s lights out for his amendment anyway.
  7. Signorile points out how gay marriage in Massachusetts hasn’t negatively affected marriage, and the doctor’s response to all that is that he’s not an expert on all these things (never mind he presented himself as such during town halls and debates on the topic), and so he can’t answer Michael’s questions because they are biased.
  8. In the end, he claimed he introduced the bill to protect marriage, but when Michael asks him out right, how does it harm marriage, he admits he doesn’t know. Signorile calls him irresponsible…I would call him much worse.

Then despite being the primary sponsor of the Bill, our good doctor ends the conversation by inviting Michael to call someone else and ask them.

Oct 252010
 

I started attending a Sunday School class at Palma Ceia United Methodist Church a few years ago because a retired minister was teaching sessions on several Methodist related topics in which I was interested. I am the youngest person in the class by quite a few years, but found a great group of intelligent and thoughtful people.

In 2008 I took a resolution to the Administrative Council of the church asking that they adopt a non-discrimination statement. It included all the categories in the United Methodist Social Principles, and that includes sexual orientation. Well you would have thought I’d ask them to torture their mothers’. It was surprisingly ugly. I have, as have most gay people, been touched by the recent spate of suicides by gay teens. We know a lot of the ugly rhetoric comes from “religious” people and religion. So I believe people of faith have a special obligation to try to tamp down the madness, and to send a message, especially, to young gay people that they are loved and welcome.

So, two Sunday’s ago, I was teaching the class (as I’ve done a number of times), and took a few minutes at the end of the class to deliver the following statement. I have been amazed at the outpouring of concern and support, and a number of them are willing to attend the Council meeting with me in November. I will reintroduce the resolution leaving out the section about trying reasonably to deal only with other organizations with similar statements. The council members previously used this as their primary objection.

I don’t remember exactly when I started attending this class, but I came for lessons by Dick Martin on The History of Methodism and The History of John Wesley, and I sort of found a home here at Palma Ceia. And for better or worse, you’ve been stuck with me since.

Despite being an outsider in a number of ways, you all welcomed me, and even allowed me learn a great deal from you. I feel I’ve developed some friendships in here, and I am grateful to have gotten to know each one of you.

I’m coming today though to do something I’m loathe to do, and that is to impose on that friendship. What I’m going to discuss may make some of you uncomfortable, but I can’t apologize for that because I’m going to be discussing something that literally has life and death consequences.

Back in 2008 I went to the Administrative Council calling on the Church to adopt a statement of non-discrimination. It included a call for the church to try to do business only with other business and organizations with a similar statement. There’s nothing in the statement that is not in the Discipline and Social Principles, but it was met, at that time, with a great deal of hostility. I could go into what I believe that to be based on, but that’s no longer the point.

The point now is, as it has been for many years, that children are dying at their own hand because they are being bullied at school. Now we all know that some amount of that is just part of growing up, and children are bullied for many reasons, but studies make it clear that a primary reason is because they are gay or perceived to be gay or lesbian. And just over the past few weeks, six children have killed themselves, and one young man has had his arm broken.

Here’s some information on these kids. I wanted to put a face on this problem. [download id=”1″]

And lest you think this is not our problem, I want to assure you that there have been and are kids in our youth group who are gay. When Rev. Mac was here, he had approached me to discuss, without divulging any confidences, gay youth and parents who had approached them for help and support. I have also had occasion to run into some of our youth at gay events.

I think these past weeks caused me to reach a tipping point. I was already fed up with the politicians using lies and distortions about my life to score political points, and by religious people raising money and support for their own false bigotries on my back. I launched my own little campaign called “Say it to my face,” in which I do my best to get in touch with some of these people, or someone on their staff, and call them out on their comments. I don’t know if I accomplish much, but it can be fun sometimes, and I feel better.

I’m over 50 now. I experienced some of that bullying growing up, and I’ve experienced discrimination in my religious and professional lives, but there’s not much left that can hurt me. However, my heart has been ripped out by these recent events, and it’s time for some adult leadership, because many of the so-called adults, wrapping themselves in the cloak of a false Christianity need to realize their words have consequences. Their words make a group of people, “the other,” and it’s always easier to hate and violate people not like us. The dehumanizing bigotries that fall from the lips of some people, even some who claim to be “Christians,” and the lies that spew forth from some public figures give children a license to verbally abuse, humiliate and condemn the gay children they encounter at school. And many of these straight children—having listened to mom and dad talk about how gay marriage is a threat to the family, will destroy society and how gay sex is awful, and gay people are worse than terrorists (all things have been said publicly)–feel justified in physically attacking the gay and lesbian students in their schools. You don’t have to explicitly “encourage children to mock, hurt, or intimidate” gay kids. Encouragement—along with hatred and fear—is implicit. It’s here, it’s clear, and we can see the fruits of it.

So I’ve had enough. I can’t change the world, but I can work to change my little corner of the world. Remember, during the Warren study, I said I had figured out my purpose in life…to leave things a little better than I found them.

I am no longer going to sit by and allow bigots to eat at the souls of the gay youth of this community. I am returning to the Administrative Council at their next meeting in November to re-submit this resolution without some of the additional requirements. ([download id=”2″])We at this church need to send the message to our youth, and to the broader community that all are welcome here at this House of God…that everyone, but especially our youth, are loved and respected, and are children of God.

Regardless of how you feel about gay people, you can’t believe it’s OK for children to be bullied to the point they see suicide as their only option. Dr. Warren Throckmorten, a conservative evangelical said it very well:

“As a traditional evangelical, I may have some differences of opinion with my gay friends. However, such ideological differences don’t matter to a middle school child who is afraid to go to school.

There are many such children who need adults to care more about their well being than about religious differences. Adults need to focus on common values of respect and civility and take the culture war off the school campus.”

He goes on to say, “It seems to me that people of faith should lead the way in providing safe and respectful environments for all. To do this, you have to be there and you have to name the problem to solve it.”

If you remember when we concluded our study of the Social Principles I asked you all to stand, and reminded you of how Martin Luther famously said, “Here I stand Lord, I can do no other.” Well here I stand, imposing on our friendship, because I’m asking you to stand with me…to ensure the children and youth of this church know this is a safe place for them…a place where they are loved and respected and supported for who they are, and where the teaching of Jesus is that all are welcome in his house.

Martin Luther King said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” I am asking you to be a friend to these kids, and speak up. I am asking you to join me at that Administrative Council meeting on November 29, and I am asking you to discuss this with your friends, and invite them to join us there.

I do not apologize if it makes you feel uncomfortable because children are dying, and I cannot, as a Christian, continue to stand by silently.

And as Forest Gump famously said, “And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.”

I also provided a sheet with a photo and brief bio of the teens who recently committed suicide.

Oct 222010
 

I haven’t been posting much lately. Partly it’s work, but it includes a general mallaise on my part. I monitor blogs that call out the supposed “Christian Leaders” whose vitriol against gay people just grows in leaps and bounds. It this sort of environment that leads gay teens to become so despondent they give up all hope, and we’ve seen the results of that all too many times recently. Yet these so-called Christians only use these situations to ramp up their hate speech, and absolve themselves of all culpability. I am sorry, but they have blood on their hands.

An activist, Dan Savage, started a Youtube Channel, It Gets Better, where people can post videos telling young gay people that they are not alone, and that there is light on the other side. Some have been quite moving, and here’s one that brought me to tears.

On October 18, 2010, members of Dallas’ Turtle Creek Chorale joined singers from over 30 area religious institutions and students from Southern Methodist University in a performance titled, A Night For Peace. WIth just three rehearsals to prepare, the 300+ “Partners In Harmony” massed chorus offered a full-length concert, which concluded with Bach’s DONA NOBIS PACEM (Grant Us Peace) from his Mass in B Minor. All stories are real. Featured speakers are current members of the Turtle Creek Chorale.

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As a society, we no longer tolerate racist language and behavior from community and religious leaders, but for some reason, we continue to sit passively when the hate speech is directed at Gay people. It is time to start calling out these false religious people. Enough is enough.

May 042009
 

I have held off posting on this whole Miss USA conflagration. I thought it mostly much ado about nothing, but now everyone seems to be jumping into the act. Not suprisingly, the krazy kristian kooks are trying to martyr Miss Jugs for Jesus.

Beauty pageants have just never been my thing, so I didn’t watch. I did see the video of Miss California’s answer to the question, and I saw the nasty response video from Perez Hilton. For the record, Hilton’s response was ridiculous, over the top, and uncalled for…and he does not represent most gay people (thank goodness). Get a life for Christ’s sake.

Carrie Prejean’s answer to her pageant question was nearly incoherent. For a minute there, I thought maybe she was channeling Bush. She is entitled to her opinion, and I defend her right to have one. However, I don’t have to respect it (bigotry is wrong, and no amount of silicon and lipstick can make it right), and when you get on a national stage, and can’t put together a coherent thought, when that’s the whole point of the question segment, then it’s also OK to make fun of you.

I have two main problems with this whole thing. First is this attempt by the whole group of professional christians to try to make a martyr of Prejean by implying that somehow she lost the pageant because of her honest answer. Well, bullshit to that. Turns out she was behind in points coming into the question, and even if she said she would be my maid of honor, unless she said it “more gooder” than she did her own answer, she didn’t deserve to win.

It is also an insult to Miss North Carolina, as the flip side of their inference is that Miss North Carolina somehow didn’t deserve to win, and I believe they all owe her an apology for their misguided implication.

I am also tired of this bullshit coming from the professional christians about how oppressed they are. Today, for the most part, it is just not socially acceptable to express racist tendencies in polite company. Does that mean that racists are oppressed? Well, by the definition of the professional christians it means exactly that. They do have a right to say whatever vile and hateful things they want to say, but that does not have to mean that society finds it acceptable to say it or act on it. And it means I can call you out on it. The times they are a changin’, and these people just don’t get it.

Distribution of major religious beliefsIt really is time for them to stop with the “oh we’re so oppressed” drama. Their very claim is that homosexuals shouldn’t have the same rights the straights do since they are the majority, but they sure do assign a lot of power to homosexuals. I just don’t get it, and why in the world the news media plays along I’ll never understand.

So it’s really time for this to be over. Miss Jugs for Jesus has had her 15 minutes, and all the straight boys can drool all over her bathing suit picture. nowwe need to move along to something that is actually important.

Apr 292009
 

U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx represents the congressional district that includes my alma mater, and she has attended ASU events and activities to advance her political career and give her an undeserved credibility. Over the past several days, Rep. Foxx has made a number of inflammatory statements during the House’s consideration of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act. Today, Rep. Foxx crossed a line when she took to the floor of the House, claimed that Shepard was killed as part of a robbery, and called the hate aspect of the crime “a hoax.”

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Kenneth E. Peacock, Chancellor
Office of the Chancellor
Appalachian State University
ASU Box 32002
Boone, NC  28608

Subject: ASU’s association with U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx

Dear Chancellor Peacock:

I had the honor of meeting you some weeks ago at an alumni reception in St. Petersburg.

I was born, raised and lived most of my life in North Carolina. I am extremely proud of that upbringing, and am a very proud Mountaineer. The lessons I’ve taken from my upbringing and education have, I believe, served me well. I was incredibly impressed by your presentation and your enthusiasm for the University, and recognize the current budget pressures you must confront.

At the reception, I noted I’d been lucky enough to receive a small bonus from work, and promised to share that with the University’s program for the financially disadvantaged students. Perhaps, with the deepest regret I’ve ever felt in my life, I cannot continue my support of Appalachian State University. Even my pride in North Carolina is shaken, and I can no longer be proud of my home state.

Boone and the University are, as you know, in the Fifth Congressional District, and Virginia Foxx is the representative for that district. I have seen, on Rep. Foxx’s congressional website, a number of photographs with her appearing at ASU functions behind and beneath the ASU Banner.

Unfortunately today I saw a video of a statement made by Rep. Foxx on the floor of the United States House of Representatives opposing the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act. It was the vilest, most hate-filled, hateful, and un-Christian statement I believe I’ve ever heard come from a U.S. Representative. (And that is a pretty high bar.)

Obama_Shepherd.jpgTo advance her political career, Rep. Foxx claimed that Matthew Shepard was killed merely as part of a robbery. This is a lie, and Rep. Foxx is, or ought to be, aware of the record before making such a statement. The Laramie Police and Prosecutors said the two men lured Mr. Shepard from a bar by pretending to be gay, beat him to pulp, and left him hung, still alive, on a fence post for over 18 hours. The men attempted to use a “gay panic” defense during their trial, and one of the defendants admitted to beating Mr. Shepard because he was gay. How is that not a hate crime?

Yet Rep. Foxx had the gall to stand on the floor of the United States House of Representatives and say, “It’s really a hoax.”

Chancellor Peacock, I recognize the political reality with which you are faced, but as a gay man, who, while never having suffered as did Mr. Shepard, has been subjected to threats and discrimination, must also stand up to the very real face of hate. I have seen that in the face and words of Rep. Foxx, not only today, but in previous statements. So while I understand you will be able to take no action on this matter, I can act. I cannot, and will not, support any person, organization, group or institution that even associates itself with Rep. Foxx. A person with Rep. Foxx’s spirit of hatefulness and lack of integrity should not be actively exposed to the diverse group of young people under your charge as part of any University sponsored event

I hope you will appreciate that this is an extremely difficult decision on my part, but until such time as the University publicly denounces Rep. Foxx’s statement and bans her from access to the Campus or any University sponsored event, or until such time as the voters in her district recognize her for the hateful, dishonest person she is and vote her out of office, I will make no further contributions to ASU.

Again, I regret this decision, and hope that the time will be short when I can resume my contributions to my beloved Alma mater.

cc: Rep. Virginia Foxx

Indocrination – BOO!

 General  Comments Off
Oct 262008
 

An article at the Florida Bilerico project points out the lengths to which the American Taliban will go in order to scare people. John Stemberger, lead proponent of Florida’s Amendment 2, is claiming that if Amendment 2 fails, the schools will have to indoctrinate children to gay marriage.

John Stemberger

John Stemberger

Failing to ban gay marriage in the state constitution could result in the indoctrination of schoolchildren into a gay lifestyle. Florida schools might have to teach that gay weddings are the same as traditional unions if the proposal fails at the polls.

In the first place, there remain four (one wasn’t good enough for the American Taliban) Florida statutes on the books which prohibit gay marriage, and they will still be on the books after this election. They have been challenged in court, and have, so far, stood a state constitutional examination.

In the second place, when the hell did any teaching of “marriage” enter the school curriculum anyway…straight or gay? I admit to forgetting a lot, and it’s been a long time since I was in school, but I just don’t remember ever being taught “marriage.” But hey, if you’re crazy and desperate, anything goes, right?

And on top of all that, despite being an attorney (or maybe because of it), Stemberger and Florida4Marriage.com are being accused of violations of campaign finance laws. It seems that political organizations must disclose from whence comes their funding. Well Stemberger, who incorporated Florida4Marriage, also incorporated Florida Family Action as a not-for-profit. As such Florida Family Action would not have to disclose their donors. Now it turns out that Ads being run in favor of Amendment 2 say they are paid for by Florida4Marriage, but it turns out they actually paid for by Florida Family Action.

In fact, Florida Red and Blue, who filed the complaints, has a memo written by Stemberger encouraging people to donate to Florida Family Action rather than Florida4Marriage. When he was asked about it, The Florida Times Union reported the following:

Stemberger said having donors contribute to the lobbying group is proper and understandable – especially considering past backlash against donors like Amway Corp. founder Richard DeVos, a major donor.

“Some people want to remain anonymous. It’s because of the intimidation of our opponents.”

This to me sounds like an admission of guilt. The law says you can’t hide contributions for this kind of activity, regardless of the reason. The GOP has often been a primary benefactor of these kinds of initiatives, and have been in Florida up to recently. People don’t take actions like this unless they have a good reason to hide something. So let’s make Mr. Stemberger disclose who contributes to both organizations.

Sep 012008
 

I am a huge fan of Lewis Black. His stand-up routines and commentaries on the Daily Show almost always evoke a laugh-out-loud reaction from me. One night last week I watched, for a second time, a Comedy Central showing of Black on stage in Washington, D.C. In response to Bush’s comments about Evolution that, “the jury is still out,” Black does a routine about the Old Testament. As is always the case with the best comedy, it made me think about me think about things from a different perspective…about how we Christians use the Old Testament to discriminate against gay people.

Black talks about the first books of the Bible being the book of his people, the Jewish people. He proceeds to make fun of Christians deciding the Old Testament wasn’t good enough, and having to come up with our own book…calling ours “New,” and his “Old.” It really gets funny when he talks about how, despite having to have our own book, Black says, “Yet every Sunday I turn on the TV set, and there’s a priest or pastor reading from my book, and interpreting it. And their interpretations, I have to tell you, are usually wrong. It’s not their fault, ’cause it’s not their book. You never see a Rabbi on TV interpreting the New Testament…do you?”

He notes that if there’s something about the Old Testament we don’t understand, there are Jews who walk among us we can ask. Now Black is making a point about the Creation story, but I find his logic applicable to other areas, such as the religious conservative view of homosexuality. Remember that most of the scripture cited by the krazy kristian kooks to justify their bigotry against gay people comes from the Old Testament. Of course, for the most part, the books of the Christian Old Testament constitute the Jewish Torah.

Black is correct that this is “his book,” and, while I understand there are very conservative orthodox Jews who also believe homosexuality is wrong, all the Jewish people I know have no problem at all with homosexuality. Funny, isn’t it, that most of the passages used to endorse homophobia come from the Old Testament, but the Jewish people…the people of “the Old Testament”…are the ones that seem to have the least aversion to homosexuals. Maybe we Christians should take Black’s advice to seek out the Jews among us, and have them interpret the Old Testament for us.

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Aug 062008
 

Well, it seems that African-American Florida House Representative Darryl Rouson has some pretty nasty things to say about Gay and Lesbian people.

First Rouson makes the blanket statement that:

“I still think that there ought to be ways for us to provide a loving environment for children without sending a wrong message to them early, or a message that we have to sit down and try to explain some psychological damage or emotional damage or something later on in life.”

Now, this is from a guy who is apparently on his third wife, and who was estranged for many years from the children of his first marriage because of his drug use. While I admire that he appears to have undergone rehab and cleaned himself up, does he not think he has some explaining to do to his children, “psychological damage or emotional damage or something later on in life?” You can read an article about Rouson by Bob Andelman here.

Making it even worse, he goes on to say, as an African American:

“I think that lesbianism and homosexuality is morally wrong and the law’s supposed to discriminate sometimes.”

Let’s see, so the law is supposed to discriminate sometimes? When would be those times Rep. Rouson? When we put up signs saying “No Coloreds?” When we ask African Americans to not use public drinking fountains? When we don’t allow “coloreds” to eat at the lunch counter…Would that be one of the times?

When asked about the comments, he first tried to deny even saying these things. When will these tools learn about video?

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He made sure he got his when he made headlines by demanding a “fair share agreement” for African-American and other minority contractors on the $41 million rebuilding of Gibbs High School in St. Petersburg. And when the city announced in December that a new cruise ship would be docking in the municipal port, Rouson wasted no time calling for minority representation on the ship’s board of directors. I guess these were not the times when the law was supposed to discriminate.

As Plato said, “Justice will only exist where those not affected by injustice are filled with the same amount of indignation as those affected.”

Hat tip to Bilgrimage for calling this to my attention.

May 122008
 
This entry is part 6 of 30 in the series Gay Marriage

A while back John Stemberger, leader of the Anti-Gay Amendment 2 group here in Florida, was quoted in an Orlando Sentinal article discussing those opposed to Amendment 2 saying, “We’re going to confront deception and we’re going to expose them wherever they are.” Strong words, until one has to eat them.

It seems Stemberger’s been going around the state debating opponents of Amendment 2, and stating it is absolutely false that there is any intent to take away domestic partner benefits. You can listen to the dishonest claims here.

So what makes his claims dishonest? Continue reading »

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